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Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Headlines RPO Valentine's Weekend with Premiere

January 23, 2009

Romeo & Juliet and Carmen Add to the Love Drama

Rochester, NY – The romantic strains of the guitar will be multiplied by four in time for Valentine’s Weekend on Thursday, February 12 and Saturday, February 14 at 8:00 pm when the GRAMMY® Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra present the East Coast premiere of Interchange, a new work by Brazilian composer and guitar master Sérgio Assad.  Straight from its world premiere performance with the San Antonio Symphony just one week earlier, Interchange is the centerpiece of the program rounded out by Debussy’s “Iberia” No. 2 from Images, selections from Carmen by Bizet, and Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet.  Music Director Christopher Seaman conducts and also hosts the pre-concert chat at 7:00 pm. 

Popularly known as LAGQ, the four virtuosi comprising the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet are known for bringing a new energy to the concert stage with their eclectic programs and dynamic musical interplay.  Their critically acclaimed transcriptions of concert masterworks provide a fresh look at the music of the past, while their interpretations of works from the contemporary and world-music realms break new ground. In addition to its recital and concerto appearances throughout the world, LAGQ recently performed Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz at the invitation of the composer’s daughter at Rodrigo’s official centenary in Spain.  LAGQ’s many honors and awards include a GRAMMY® in 2005 for its “Guitar Heroes” CD on the Telarc label. This season, it also premieres a new musical adaptation of the Cervantes classic story of Don Quixote with British actor John Cleese.

Born in Brazil, composer Sérgio Assad began writing music for guitar not long after he began playing the instrument.  By age 14, he was arranging and writing original compositions for the guitar duo he had formed with his brother, Odair.  Since that time, he has completed more than 50 works for guitar, and Interchange is one that grew out of his dream to write a substantial piece for LAGQ, a group with the great ability to blend different musical styles into a unique and novel interpretation.  “I used their individual taste in music as starting points for the first four movements,” said Mr. Assad, “and I end the piece with the coalescence of these four different pieces forming an Interchange.”  The far-flung mix includes a Renaissance-type of dance combined with the Jewish scale, Spanish buleria and Balkan music, jazz-style ballad with inventive melody lines, and the peculiar syncopated rhythm of baião (from the northeast part of Brazil) mixed with blues phrasing.

Setting a Spanish mood to open the evening, the RPO performs Debussy’s impressionistic “Iberia” from his set of Images. The composer uses his incredible sense of color to evoke different scenes in that country: the streets, the perfume of the night, and a festival.  After intermission, selections from Bizet’s tragic opera, Carmen, and from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet add to the emotional drama of the evening.  Maestro Seaman considers Romeo and Juliet to be one of the composer’s greatest works.  “The drama and tragedy of the story are portrayed with extraordinary power and skill,” says Seaman, “and the grace and elegance of the aristocratic families are also perfectly captured.”

Tickets for these performances are $20-$56, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm).  The RPO performances are part of the week-long Eastman Guitarfest, co-sponsored by the Orchestra and the Eastman School of Music, which includes an LAGQ recital on Sunday, February 15, and masterclasses with quartet members, among other events.  The RPO concerts also are part of its celebration of Rochester’s 175th anniversary.
The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb; this concert is sponsored by Unity Health.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted $9 Philharmonics Series tickets to local students. 

Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

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